After he suffered his second major right elbow injury and underwent reconstructive surgery in 2010, Christian Garcia couldn’t find a job. He understood why. Even though he was once a top New York Yankees pitching prospect because of his blazing fastball and cartoonish secondary pitches, he couldn’t stay healthy. His right elbow had undergone three surgeries, two of them ligament replacements, and he was told he had a 5 percent chance of regaining his form.
After 18 months of rehab on his own, Garcia spent four days in July 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals, who were ready to sign him until the offer was pulled because a team doctor wouldn’t clear his physical. Then Garcia’s agent at the time mentioned that the Washington Nationals had a reputation for giving injured players a chance.
To Garcia’s surprise, after a workout that July, the Nationals offered him a two-year deal, the second contract year giving the right-hander time to build strength. Garcia, 27, rewarded the Nationals, posting gaudy statistics in the minor leagues last season, then earning a September call-up and even making the postseason roster. Despite an unrelated forearm injury this spring, he is still viewed as an important part of the team’s starting depth.